The 20th annual Austin Studio Tour has come to a close, showcasing 530 locally-based artists and their take on the paths that brought them to the city. With the mission of engaging and connecting "creatives that help define the culture of our city," the tour dove all over the East and West to showcase the color in Austin.
Though their work is no longer on display, here are a few Austinite artists to keep your eye on.
Lea Alvarado started her artistic journey when she was just 5 years old in her hometown of Queretaro, Mexico, where she has since been named a prodigy, moved to Austin at 12 years old. Attacking the socio-political issues facing the 20-year-old's generation, Alvarado has won awards from the YAM State Capitol Exhibit and the Governor's Gallery and says she wants to "portray that there is right and wrong in everything."
Born in Córdoba, Argentina, Lucas Aoki started painting in one of the most beloved styles of the city—mural art—after his 2010 move to Austin. Through his whimsical characters that spark curiosity, Aoki has done projects for ACL Festival, SXSW, Alamo Drafthouse, Microsoft and more over the past eight years.
A native Austinite and Texas State University BFA recipient, Brock Caron is a painter, sculptor and illustrator who works on all types of media.
Focusing on early American life, sights that might be familiar to Hill Country-dwellers, and "small towns untouched by a fast-paced world," Caron spends his free time similarly—with a beer and a bit of cash leftover for the jukebox. Caron is currently a member of the nonprofit arts organization Contracommon in Bee Cave, Texas.
Exploring social impacts of technology, the colors of emotion and light as a representation of the soul, 23-year-old Holly Cerna is a painter that works through color theory. Her depictions of daily life transcend the everyday experience, showing common objects of middle-class life while keeping the magic behind them alive.
Carla J. Clay
Using bright and lively colors to convey the native elements of Texas that inspire her most, El Paso native Carla J. Clay's interpretation of Native American symbols influences her work. With a background in computer engineering, art has always been her first love, and her work can be seen at The People's Gallery in Austin.
Ariel René Jackson and Michael J. Love
Focusing on the Black past and the Black future, Jackson and Love both have Austin ties as University of Texas alumni. Jackson, who was born in Louisiana, holds her afro-creole roots true in her video, audio and performance art mediums. Jackson teaches Expanded Media at UT and the entry won the 2021 Tito's Prize.
A paper artist who is inspired by nature, culture and literature, Kristen Newcomer loves to read and lives with her sons and husband here in Austin. From the Blanco river flowing south in San Marcos to Lake Travis here in city limits, Newcomer's paper works show her devotion to keeping Austin beautiful. Newcomer does commissions in hopes of strengthening connections to others.
Reflecting the beauty and resilience of his home state, Brian Phillips' treasure is made from another man's trash. Converted from reclaimed wood, Phillips celebrates reassembly, imperfection and rejection reaching a new life just like his motto: "Have fun. Enjoy Life."
Alison Hightower Suttle
Using her expertise as a native Texan, Alison Hightower Suttle captures memories of the Lone Star State in her signature folk style. Highlighting the diversity that lives here, Suttle's overhead view of the city shows vignettes of individuals who share the special days she depicts.
Tom Jean Webb
Born in London in the early '80s, Tom Jean Webb found the romantic landscape he spent his childhood imagining in the American Southwest, leading him to continue his journey between realities. Shown together, Webb's paintings inform each other and create a unique land unlike our own but not far from it. Webb is now based here in Central Texas.
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With soft sand, plenty of beach bars and the best ceviche, there's arguably only one beach worth going to in Texas—South Padre Island.
You might know this beach as a college student's spring break hotspot, but really, it's the Rio Grande Valley's most secret gem. From someone who has been going to "the island" every year since before I could walk, here's a guide to the best SPI has to offer.
First thing's first, don't underestimate how hot South Texas is. Be ready with plenty of sunscreen. If you thought Austin was hot, you're in for a treat as high humidity will make the Valley feel scorching. Luckily, the water offers some reprieve from the sun's rays—still, be sure to bring sunscreen and a hat.
Driving in: From Austin, you can expect almost a six hour drive. Your navigation will take you either around San Antonio (which is a plus for most people) or through San Antonio, funneling to U.S. 77 until you reach Valley grounds in Harlingen.
- From there, it might be smarter to take the toll roads, which border the Port of Brownsville and will save you going through small towns like Los Fresnos that can get backed up with traffic.
- But if you do decide to hightail it through Los Fresnos, be wary of how fast you are going and the speed limit. Cops are especially on the prowl in those areas, catching out of towners unfamiliar with the speed limit changes.
Still, no matter which route you take, you'll go through Port Isabel before crossing the 2-mile bridge to South Padre. During peak times, such as early afternoon, expect to sit in traffic. Better times to travel are in the early morning.
Flying in: For the people that read a six-hour drive with wide eyes, there is a nearby airport in Brownville, a 40-minute drive from SPI, as well as the Valley International Airport in Harlingen, a 1-hour drive away. Be ready to spend $250-$400 a person.
Sights and sounds
Getting to the RGV, you'll be welcomed with palm trees well before you've made it to the beach. And just before crossing the bridge from Port Isabel to South Padre, you'll see a sign that may be blinking, indicating to watch out for pelicans.
As you drive over that bridge, your passengers will want to get their phones out and take the classic video of the the water, boats and parasailers in the bay. It's the best way to let everyone know you're on vacation!
And don't forget to roll down your window to take in the salty smell of the gulf of Mexico.
Resorts: For beach access and the fun amenities that come with that, places like The Pearl, The Palm and The Saphire are where you'll get a resort-style feel.
Affordable: You can still find a Holiday Inn, Ramada and La Quinta along the beach bars.
Airbnb is always an option where you can rent out condos, but you'll want to make sure to book in advance as options may be limited in peak summer.
There are at least 25 access points to the beach, which is on the east edge of the island. Some you can only get to if you're a hotel guest. Here are the most popular ways to reach the sand.
Walking to the beach: Between the bars and hotels, you'll find free access points where you get to just park and walk right onto the beach. You're likely to still find umbrellas and chairs you can rent out.
Beach bar access: Some of the most popular places for beach entry are those that come with a nearby bar. But don't worry, all ages are welcome. You'll want to check these bars' social media pages in the evenings if you're looking for live music.
- Where you're almost certain to not struggle for parking is one of the hottest spots on the beach: Clayton's Beach Bar and Grill. At Clayton's, you're able to get your drink on, get a bite to eat and have access to the beach and volleyball courts.
- A smaller, but just as cool alternative is Wanna Wanna Beach Bar and Grill. With the same amenities as Clayton's, you can't go to Wanna Wanna without trying a turbo, a pina colada with a rum floater—you can get these just about anywhere on the beach, but they just taste better beachside.
Driving on the beach: If you want to try your four-wheel drive on the sand, you can! Access points #5 and #6 allow you to pay a small fee to take your vehicle out there. Click here to see how you might prepare your vehicle for the sand. If you choose to go with this option, you'll want to make sure to pack appropriately as there are no rentals or bars nearby.
If you're trying to make the most of your South Padre getaway, we have you covered with things for the whole family as well as the nightlife scene.
- Watch the fireworks: Catch a fireworks display at the island all summer long. Catch them displayed on the bay in front of Louie's Backyard on Tuesdays and near Clayton Beach Bar on Fridays and Saturdays.
- Beach Park and Isla Grande: The former Schlitterbahn is now a beach park that opened in 2021. The 25-acre waterpark has water slides, a zipline and beach access. (Day passes are $38.99 for children and $10 more for adults)
- Sea Turtle, Inc.: Learn about sea turtles and sea life conservation at the largest state-of-the-art sea turtle hospital. You'll be able to get up close and personal with the turtles! ($4 for children, $10 for adults)
- Gravity Park: For the adrenaline junkies, this park has the tallest reverse bungee in the world ($25), a skycoaster ($25), go-karts ($15-$20), mini-golf ($8-10), a 60-foot ferris wheel ($8), and a climbing wall ($8).
- Sandcastle exhibit: Right next to Gravity Park is a small sandcastle exhibit that is free and about a 5-minute walk to see all the exhibits made entirely from sand by professionals. (Free w/ donations accepted)
- Get in on the water sports: A couple of rental places like Coconut Jacks SPI offer jet skis for rental as well as equipment for parasailing.
- Rent a pontoon boat: Tritoon Charters allows you to rent a pontoon boat for the day perfect for the whole family. The charter offers private snorkeling, shell hunting, up close dolphin and turtle encounters, tubing and sight seeing.
- Party like a local: Escape the beachside and head to the west edge of the island for live music and dancing. Tourists love to flood Louie's Backyard, but there are other bars along the bay worth going to such as Longboard, Laguna Bobs and Tequila Sunset.
You can't leave the island before eating ceviche and fried shrimp. And you can't go wrong by eating at the already mentioned beach bars and bay bars. But here are some other notable places to visit:
- Breakfast: Yummies Bistro and Grapevine Cafe are both places to get your breakfast tacos in the morning.
- Lunch: Cafe on the Beach are good midday options to catch a quick bite without sacrificing quality.
- Dinner: F&B is about as upscale as it gets if you can snag a reservation—Elon Musk has been spotted here. They also offer Sunday brunch.
The pilot of a small plane is now in the hospital after crashing into Lady Bird Lake Thursday afternoon.
The plane, which was being operated by a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden, only had the pilot in it when it crashed just west of I-35 in the lake around 2 p.m. Nearby paddleboarders are seen taking the unidentified pilot to Austin-Travis County EMS in a video.
The pilot was then transported to Dell Seton Medical Center with potentially serious injuries.
UPDATE: #ATCEMSSPARTAN drone video showing the aircraft submerged just below the surface. pic.twitter.com/wexI9MqpQS
— ATCEMS (@ATCEMS) June 16, 2022
Texas Parks and Wildlife said the plane, a 2009 Cessna T206, was on a test flight after routine maintenance when the pilot reported mechanical issues and then crashed.
As of Thursday afternoon, it is not known when the plane will be removed from Lady Bird Lake.
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